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Canadian Rockies

Mystery Towns Adventure in Canmore

I had plans to spend my Saturday afternoon doing something fun with my mom. I needed an activity that got us outside but wasn’t as high intensity as say, skiing or ice climbing. I decided the best option for an easy afternoon of fun was to try a Mystery Towns Adventure!

These tours are available in Banff, Canmore, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver and Victoria. Essentially, they are a unique scavenger hunt, sightseeing tour, and timed race all rolled into one exciting adventure! Of the three Canmore tours to choose from, we did Smuggler’s Blues. We were tasked with helping the North West Mounted Police find the identity of the mysterious Canmore Smuggler.

After you purchase the tour, you can do it on any day at any time, however, daytime hours are strongly recommended. Also, be sure to dress for the weather in order to get the best experience possible, because nothing is less fun than dealing with the elements without proper clothing.

Get outside with Mystery Towns Adventures!

My mom was expecting something regimented with a strict start and end time when I first told her about my plans. Mystery Towns is nothing like that, it’s just a laid-back activity you can do at your own pace. We arrived at the Canmore Civic Centre and all I had to do was download the Mystery Town Tours app onto my phone, enter the booking information and voilà! We were ready to start. You can also link multiple phones to receive clues if you have a larger group.

The hunt is cleverly designed to lead you around town while you learn about the area by reading information plaques and exploring landmarks. Some clues even have you going into stores and interacting with staff to find specific information.

After a few easy questions, we wondered if we were going to be some of the top finishers since, as locals, we had insider knowledge. It didn’t take too long before our false sense of security was shattered as the clues became more challenging. We didn’t mind, since the harder the riddles got the greater the gratification was from solving them. The challenging questions also led to a lot of teamwork and bouncing ideas off one another, which we both enjoyed.

That’s a happy mom!

Aside from the gratification of solving a difficult puzzle, we were also very impressed by how it compelled us explore the townsite. As locals, we tend to take for granted these bits of history and information scattered around the town. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tromped past information plaques, not really noticing them. Before my adventure, I couldn’t point out Ha Ling Peak, one of Canmore’s most visited mountains. Now I know exactly where it is thanks to one of those plaques!

There were also some unexpected results during our adventure. Occasionally we would get off track, but our search led to extra information about a certain place or checking out a landmark we normally wouldn’t think about. That kind of spontaneity really gave the experience a little extra excitement for us.

I highly recommend trying a Mystery Towns Adventure, whether you’re a local living in the Rocky Mountains or if you’re just visiting. It’s a fantastic way to explore the town, see the sights and learn all about this amazing place some of us are lucky to call home.

Valentine’s Day in the Canadian Rockies

February is the season of love, which has many of you thinking about what to do impress that special someone for Valentine’s Day. Perhaps you need ideas on where to take your loved one for an unforgettable evening, or you want a suggestion on where to go for that perfect Valentine’s Day dinner. We’ve got you covered with a handy list of events and restaurants to make your Valentine’s Day in the Canadian Rockies perfect.

Valentine’s Day Events

Event #1: Check out Communitea in Canmore for their 9th Annual Valentine’s Show. This year will feature the musical talents of Michael Bernard Fitzgerald!

Event #2: Enjoy a special Valentine’s Day iteration of Miss Candy’s Variety Show in the Chill Showroom at Stoney Nakoda Resort and Casino. The resort is also offering packages that include a room, dinner and tickets to the show.

Event #3: Take in some arts and culture for Valentine’s Day and grab tickets to Revisor on Feb 13th & 14th at the Banff Centre. Treat your loved one to a night of provocative contemporary dance.

Event #4: At artsPlace you can enjoy a screening of Degas: Passion for Perfection for Valentine’s Day. This is an “exhibition on screen” that will take you from the streets of Paris to the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, which holds the largest collection of Degas’ work.

Event #5: Do you want to avoid the Valentine’s Day rush? Take your partner to the Starlight Dinner on Mt. Norquay on February 23rd. The North American Chairlift will lift you up to admire the views on your way to the Cliffhouse Bistro. There you can enjoy the warm glow of a fire and a wonderful five-course meal with wine parings and musical accompaniment by Alanna J Brown.

Valentine’s Day Dinners

Do you feel like doing something classically romantic? Check out some these great restaurants in the Rockies for your ideal Valentine’s Day dinner.

Canmore Venues

Table Food + Drink: Rushed for a Valentine’s Day reservation? Table is running their special Valentine’s Day menu for three days! Get a three-course dinner on February 14th,15th and 16th for only $120 per couple.

Gaucho Brazilian Barbecue: Enjoy a special Valentine’s Day Rodizio that includes all the Gaucho meats you love plus shrimp, mussels, lobster and a guava cheesecake for $70 per person.

The Grande Kitchen + Bar: Get a taste of the Grande’s special Valentine’s Day three-course dinner for $130 per couple!

Banff Venues

Banff Gondola and Sky Bistro: Indulge your date in a truly unforgettable night at the Banff Gondola. The Sky Experience Package is only $89, and it includes a ride in the gondola and some distinctly Canadian, and locally sourced appetizers and entrées from Sky Bistro. Too busy on the 14th? Friday and Saturday nights at the Banff Gondola now feature a stargazing experience!

Nourish Bistro: Need some feel good food on Valentine’s Day? For $99.99 you can partake in a four-course meal with live music by Alanna J Brown and live painting by Andrea McLean at Nourish Event from 6 until 10 pm. For an extra $10 you can get a ‘love potion’ for the evening.

Juniper Bistro: Voted “The Most Romantic Place to Eat” by locals of the Bow Valley come and enjoy a nicely secluded evening at the Juniper Bistro. For only $49 you get a three-course meal and a taxi voucher to take you back to Banff.

Jasper Venues

Evil Dave’s Grill: Feeling a little sinful? Check out Evil Dave’s maliciously delicious three course offering this Valentine’s Day for only $49.99 per person!

Jasper Food Tour: You and your significant other can indulge in a Gastrodisiac experience this Valentine’s Day with Jasper Food Tours. This is a three-venue tasting event will take you to Fiddle River, The Raven and Olive Bistro where you will sample menus designed to boost sex drive and intimacy.

 

The Shops of Canmore: Opening Soon!

It’s been a much-anticipated event: The Grand Opening of the Shops of Canmore! This new building combines state-of-the-art architecture with a host of shops, restaurants and services designed to serve locals and visitors alike. They have parking, bike racks and are right beside the ROAM Regional Transit bus stop. We are excited to see this development come to life in Canmore, and we think you should be too.

We had a chance to meet some of the vendors waiting to open in this exciting new location. Here are a few things to anticipate!

 

Canmore Downtown Hostel

After the Hostel Bear closed to make room for a new hotel, Canmore has been without affordable, short-term accommodation. The Canmore Downtown Hostel hopes to remedy this situation by opening in the Shops of Canmore. Taking up the majority of the top floor, this hostel has various room styles to suit a wide variety of travellers. They are excited to bring the hostel experience back to Canmore.

 

H&R Block

It’s almost tax time! Where do you get your taxes done? H&R Block, a staple for Canmorites, is moving to a new and bigger location. These new offices will allow H&R Block to better serve its loyal customers, as well as increase their capacity to take on new clients.

 

Subway

Eat Fresh! Subway is opening its third location in Canmore! With a large store, plenty of parking and easy access to many major hotels, the franchise is excited to open their new storefront. In addition, they will be keeping their downtown and Bow Valley Trail locations open so they can best serve their customers.

 

Beamers

Canmore’s favourite local coffee shop is opening a third location in the Shops of Canmore. These guys are local, friendly and they serve some of the best brew in town. See their Travelling Cup Photo Showcase. The Beamers cup has been around the world! Where will you take your travelling cup?

 

Edo Japan

It’s coming to Canmore! Edo Japan is opening in the Shops of Canmore. Stop in for lunch, dinner, a quick snack or anytime you’re feeling hungry! We’re excited. You should be too. Is it lunchtime yet?

 

Mad Dog Café

The delicious curry house is moving from nearby Dead Man’s Flats to this more central Canmore location. Their curries are made fresh in house with take home and eat-in options. They are also the headquarters for Mad Dogs and Englishmen dog sledding! Book a summer kennel tour or winter dog sled adventure right in the café.

 

The Loft Beard and Beauty Lounge

Love those locks! This full-service hair and beauty salon is moving to a larger location to beautify even more people. If you’re a regular, you know how amazing these guys are. If you’re not, check them out! The Loft has services for both men and women.

 

Freshii

Quick lunches just became a whole lot healthier with Freshii! This salad bar offers fresh, healthy food at an affordable price. They’re just as quick as any fast-food joint, but they’ll leave you feeling refreshed and energized for the rest of the day. Who’s up for lunch?

 

Embody Pilates

Moving from their downtown location, Embody Pilates is looking forward to their new, large space with stunning mountain views. Never tried Pilates? It’s a great way to improve movement and recover from injuries. Embody also has massage therapists and physio on site. Book a couple’s package and leave feeling refreshed!

 

The Sensory

Cocktail anyone? This bar plans to be open late and serves unique cocktails created from fresh ingredients, regionally sourced where possible. They accompany their drinks with amazing signature food, prepared from fresh, local and often foraged ingredients. The Sensory offers a fine dining experience any time of the day. Or night.

 

This is just a sampling of the exciting stores opening in the Shops of Canmore! For a full list of vendors, and more information, click here!

Snowcat Snowshoe Adventure with White Mountain Adventures

I love snowshoeing. I also love the mountains covered in thick, fresh powder and the amazing scenery of the backcountry. So when I was discussing different tours with the wonderful staff at White Mountain Adventures, I asked what they had for an adventurous snowshoe: something you couldn’t get “in town”. Their immediate response: The Snowcat Snowshoe Adventure. A full day of backcountry snowshoeing at Fortress Mountain, accessed by a bus ride and a snowcat. Awesome.

 

Mountain Scenery

Spoiler Alert: It was awesome!

 

My day started at the Coast Hotel in Canmore, because White Mountain picks you up! Our van arrived and I was greeted by our friendly guide, Marc. He made sure everyone on the tour was dressed correctly – winter coats, snow pants, hats and mitts/gloves are required. They tell you all about this when you register. We already had a couple people from Banff and we picked up four more at the Stoney Nakoda Resort. Then it was off to Kananaskis!

 

Marc stopped to put on snow chains before unlocking the gate at Fortress and heading up the hill. You know it’s a good day when the driver has to chain the tires! The sun was just beginning to rise, defining the mountains with angled shadows. “The snow is like makeup for mountains,” said one of the guests, “it defines their features and brings out their beauty.” The combination of the fresh snow and the early morning sunshine definitely made for some stunning scenery as we drove past the old ski lodge at Fortress Mountain.

 

Tire with snow chains

You know is going to be a good day when these babies go on!

 

Marc gave us all snowshoes and double checked that we had the necessary clothing. Because the day was sunny and relatively warm, we ran the risk of sweating. We had to make sure we weren’t overdressed for the conditions. Marc explained, “You don’t want to sweat. Your body cools down by sweating, but if we have to stop for some reason, your sweat will cool you down too fast and you could get hypothermia. If you are starting to sweat, remove a layer so your body doesn’t overheat.”

 

Our snowcat operators gave us a quick safety rundown before we loaded into the machine. They had a lot of experience with different movies filmed at this location, including The Bourne Legacy, Inception and The Revenant. They were preparing to shoot a film, which meant they would be doing some avalanche control during the day. We could expect to see helicopters and hear the bombs. With any luck, we might spot a few avalanches as well.

 

Then we were off! For anyone who hasn’t experienced a snowcat before, it is the ultimate machine for moving through deep snow. With a large track underneath and a plow out front, there was nothing that could stop us as we were transported to the best area given the day’s conditions.

 

KPOW snowcat and mountain

Nothing can stop a Snowcat!

 

We stopped at the top of a rise, 2300 meters above sea level. The snowcat drivers pointed out where different film sets used to be. They also shared some juicy stories about actors and directors as we put on our snowshoes and prepared to set out. They wished us well before heading back to the lodge to meet the incoming helicopters.

 

We were on our own for most of the afternoon. We had about three feet of fresh powder in the trees, which was our playground. The new snow had piled high on the branches, creating the perfect winter wonderland to explore. We were long past cell service at this point. There’s something special about being disconnected in the wilderness surrounded by trees and mountains.

 

Heavy snow on trees

It was a winter wonderland!

 

We had lots of photo opportunities as we bounded through the fresh powder. Marc told us about the different trees in the area as well as any tracks we discovered. He showed us the basics of snow layering and avalanche safety, although he assured us we would not be venturing into avalanche terrain during our trip.

 

We went through the trees and followed no set trail. Marc asked that we stay together, but we could venture on our own lines if we wanted. Most of us were happy to let him break trail and follow where he led. The further back along the line, the easier the trek becomes as the people in front work to pack down the snow. I broke trail in a few places, but I was also happy to let Marc take on the hard work! Everyone had a few moments of falling in the snow, and we all laughed as we struggled to regain our feet in the deep powder.

 

Our fearless guide, Marc!

Our fearless guide, Marc!

 

About halfway through our adventure, we stopped for tea, hot chocolate and cookies. It was a delicious snack that refueled us for the rest of the afternoon. Marc explained that the best way to ward off the cold was to “feed the fire,” or feed ourselves in this case. As we stood around enjoying our snack, we could feel the cold creeping up after our exertion. It was a warm, sunny day and we were all sweating a little bit. We were also wet from falling in the snow on difficult sections.

 

Because everyone in the group had experienced snowshoeing before, and we were all game for an adventure, Marc was able to take us to some pretty incredible places. The “wall” of Fortress Mountain was certainly impressive, and it showed how this place got its name. A few remnants of movie sets were still in place, although most of them had been completely dismantled after filming. There were some open areas for cat-skiing, which some enthusiasts still do at the resort. At the moment, the lifts are eerily still, a reminder of what was once a favourite ski hill for many locals.

 

Chairlift frozen in time

The lifts were eerily still

 

In the afternoon, the helicopters arrived. Although they were bombing far from where were snowshoeing, the explosions echoed throughout the valley. We could see the helicopters and a few of the explosions, although the avalanches were tumbling on the other side of the rise. As we made our way down a ski run to the snowcat at the end of the day, the helicopter circled overhead. At the cat, we were able to watch as they triggered avalanches in the area where we were dropped off earlier that day. We learned a lot about avalanche bombing from Chris “Chevy” Chevalier, the president of the K-POW team, who picked us up in the snowcat.

 

After the excitement of the helicopter action, we all piled into the snowcat to head back to the van. We were smiling from ear to ear with the excitement of the adventure. On our way down, we were starting to feel the cold creep up once again. We added some extra layers back at the van before settling in for the drive back to town.

 

We all shared stories of different life adventures on the drive back. Marc kept us entertained with some of his wild backpacking stories and advice on excellent summer backpacking trips. We returned home feeling tired from the exertion, but otherwise elated from having experienced such an amazing adventure.

Mountain Scene

We were all elated from our adventure.

Bottom Line: if you’re looking to experience the beauty of the backcountry in the Canadian Rockies, try the Snowcat Snowshoe Adventure from White Mountain Adventures. You will experience some of the best backcountry snowshoeing that the area has to offer with zero hassle. They provide the transportation, equipment and expertise. All you have to do is have fun!

20 Stores and 20 Restaurants in the Rockies Open on Boxing Day

Once the Christmas festivities have passed, people are ready to get out of the house on Boxing Day. To make sure you know where you can shop or have a bite to eat, here is a list of restaurants and shops in Canmore and Banff open on Boxing Day.

 

Banff Restaurants

  1. Wild Bills – Open with regular hours with The Brent Lee Band is playing from the 26th – 29th.
  2. Nourish Bistro – Check out their Christmas Eve Eve Party on the 23rd. They will be open with regular hours and awesome vegetarian food on Boxing Day.
  3. Saltlik – Want a delicious steak? This steakhouse will be open until late on Boxing Day.
  4. Tooloulous – Offers one of the best breakfasts in town and you can have it on Boxing Day.
  5. The Waldhaus – Their pub and restaurant will be open with regular hours.
  6. The Vermillion Room – Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but consider reserving a table in advance.
  7. Pacini – Craving Italian? These guys will be open all day on Boxing Day.
  8. Coyotes – Southwestern goodness served all Boxing Day.
  9. Indian Curry House – Get delicious curry here from 11 to 11.
  10. Silver Dragon – Banff’s best Chinese restaurant will be open on Boxing Day.

 

Banff Shops

  1. Smartwool – The best in Merino wool clothing is open on Boxing Day. They will also be donating to Protect Our Winters, an organization that seeks to advocate climate action, though the sales of their Snowboard Lite Elite Socks.
  2. Buffalo Nation Luxton Museum – Open 365 days a year! Come in and see Indigenous heritage objects. Proceeds from the gift shop help support the museum.
  3. The North Face – Come in for their Boxing Day sale 30- 40% off select merchandise.
  4. Banff Gondola – Hosting family games and fun from 10 am – 1 pm from the 24th – 30th. Don’t miss caramel apple decorating from 10 am – 1 pm on the 26th – 30th. Also, check out their mulled wine bar open daily from 2 – 5 pm on the 24th – 30th.
  5. The Lux Cinema – They will be offering 4 shows daily for the holidays. 2 matinees and 2 evening screenings for each movie. Open Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year Eve.
  6. Cascade Shops – Banff’s biggest shopping centre will be open for business on Boxing Day.
  7. Lolë – Open for Boxing Day and be sure to expect a sale.
  8. Patagonia – Open on Boxing Day with regular hours.
  9. Chateau Mountain Sports – Retail store is open for business at the Banff Springs.
  10. Snowflake – Both the Sundance and Banff Springs locations will be open. 20% off sale happening at the Banff Springs location.

 

Canmore Restaurants

  1. Marietta’s – Open for business with normal hours and serving great food on Boxing Day.
  2. Iron Goat – Open with regular hours, so come in and enjoy the food and views on Boxing Day.
  3. Patrino’s – Open at 7 am for breakfast.
  4. Tavern 1883 – Open and featuring a Boxing Day party with DJ Juice after Wednesday night Trivia.
  5. The Drake Pub – Open for Boxing Day with $5/lb wings.
  6. Chez Francois – Stop in for a fantastic, breakfast lunch or dinner on Boxing Day.
  7. Table Food + Drink – Open Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Come in and try a custom charcuterie board.
  8. Famous Chinese – Canmore’s fantastic Chinese restaurant is open on Boxing Day.
  9. Gaucho – Come in for a unique dining experience from 5-10 pm on Boxing Day.
  10. Craig’s – Open on Boxing Day from 7 am until 3 pm.

 

Canmore Shops 

  1. Wild Life Distillery – Come in for awesome botanical spirits on Boxing Day.
  2. Sports Experts – Check out their Boxing Day sale.
  3. Valhalla Pure – Open on Boxing Day from 11 am – 6 pm with a sale of 10 – 50% off select items.
  4. Tin Box – Open for business on Boxing Day.
  5. Raw Distillery – Open on Boxing Day with bottle sales of select spirits.
  6. Ammonite Factory – Open for business from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm on Boxing Day.
  7. Café Books – Open on Boxing Day from 11 am to 5 pm.
  8. Canadian Tire – Open from 8 am to 9 pm pick up their Boxing Day sale flyer for all the deals.
  9. Alpenrose Market – Open from 10 am to 6 pm and 10% off purchases of $100 or more.
  10. Rocky Mountain Soap – Open from 930 to 8 pm with a special promotion

 

By Derrick Szuszkiel

8 Places to Ski in the Canadian Rockies

It’s no secret that the Canadian Rockies offer a world-class ski experience like no other. Canada’s Mountain Parks include Banff and Jasper, both UNESCO World Heritage sites, as well as Kananaskis Country and the Purcell Mountains. The Canadian Rockies are home to downhill ski areas offering limitless powder, steep off-piste slopes, groomed runs, and some of the best terrain for beginners. Cross-Country ski trails abound. What’s your ideal day?

 

Banff National Park

 

 

 

Mount Norquay, Sunshine Village and Lake Louise are Banff’s “Big 3.” Tri-area, multi-day lift passes with optional lessons can be purchased at the Banff Ski Hub. New this year, personalized guided adventures on all three hills include tips and coaching for skiers or snowboarders, insider info about the hills, history of the area and lift line priority. Free daily shuttles ensure you get to the hill of your choice.

 

 

1. MOUNT NORQUAY

Photo Courtesy of Mount Norquay

 

Features

  • Accessible Runs
  • 503m/1,650ft vertical rise
  • 6 lifts, 60 runs

The region’s original ski area, est. 1926. Just 10 minutes north of downtown Banff, Mount Norquay has a reputation for being the training ground for skiers of all ages and abilities, from first timers to Olympic medalists like Jan Hudec. A favourite among locals, many have been spotted taking an afternoon off work for some great skiing close to home.

The close proximity of the lodge and parking lot provides easy access to the hills, perfect for new skiers who can then spend more time on some of the best learning terrain in the Rockies.

Experts love the double-black-diamond runs such as Lone Pine, which remains one of the longest and steepest vertical pitches in North America.

Norquay offers night skiing on two of their downhill runs as well as their terrain park. Check online for dates and details.

New this season: Try their carpool days for discounted skiing! One price of $50 per vehicle, so pack your friends for a great day on the slopes! Dec 19, Jan 9, Feb 13, Mar 13 and Apr 10.

 

Tickets

A: $89 | Yth/Sr: $68 | Ch: $35

All Inclusive (ski, tube and sightseeing): A: $109 | Yth/Sr: $87 | Ch: $46

 

 

2. BANFF SUNSHINE VILLAGE

Photo by Reuben Krabbe

 

Features

  • Three Mountains
  • 1,070m/3,514ft vertical rise
  • 12 lifts (including 7 high-speed quads), 137 runs

 

Banff Sunshine Village boasts the longest ski season in the Rockies, from November to May with all-natural snow. Located 8 km west of Banff via Hwy 1, Sunshine is Canada’s highest altitude ski resort. From the base, take the world’s fastest eight-passenger gondola to the village. Then stay toasty on TeePee LX, the country’s first covered chairlift with heated seats, or find new features in the Great Divide Terrain Park.

Test your skills on Delirium Dive where the combination of steepness, vertical drop and snow conditions have earned it the title of “Canada’s most extreme off-piste.” This run is a favourite for locals who often visit for a few laps of the Dive before work.

The Wild West features 5 double black diamond runs that incorporate tight chutes and technical terrain. Note: A partner and proper avalanche equipment, including a transceiver, probe and shovel, are required to ski the Dive or the Wild West.

Try a Ski Week Package for 5 days of unlimited skiing or riding, 5 nights of accommodation, lessons and more.

 

Tickets

A: $114 |Yth/Sr: $89 | Ch: $44

 

 

3. LAKE LOUISE SKI RESORT

Photo by Reuben Krabbe

 

Features

  • Four Mountain Faces
  • 991m/3,250ft vertical rise
  • 10 lifts, 145 marked runs

 

Lake Louise Ski Resort is known for hosting annual World Cup Downhill races. Located 40 minutes west of Banff on Hwy 1, this family friendly resort boasts discounted prices for children, beginner to advanced runs accessible from each lift and a comprehensive ski school for all ages and abilities. Their daycare can accommodate infants as young as 18 days old. Reserve daycare spaces ahead!

Enjoy breathtaking views of Lake Louise, Victoria Glacier and ice-clad Mount Temple on 4,200 acres of fall-line skiing.

Check out Showtime Terrain Park’s jumps, rails and boxes for novice to expert tricksters.

The Sunny Tube Park is a great way to spend the day with the family.

Ski pristine powder on the backside Whitehorn slopes, Eagle Ridge chutes and Ptarmigan glades.

 

Tickets

A: $114 | Yth/Sr: $89 | Ch/Learning area: $44 | Under 5: Free

 

 

 

Jasper National Park

 

Enjoy the big and beautiful slopes of Marmot Basin in Jasper National Park.

 

4. MARMOT BASIN

Photo courtesy of Marmot Basin

 

Features

  • Big, Beautiful and Uncrowded
  • 914m/3,000ft vertical rise
  • 7 lifts, 91 runs.

 

Jasper’s only ski area, Marmot Basin, is located 20 km south of Jasper via the Icefields Parkway, Hwy 93A. Escape the crowds and enjoy stunning Athabasca Valley views while skiing 1,729 acres of runs, bumps, chutes and bowls framed by impressive pinnacles and ridges.

Looking to take your skills to the next level? Try their “Double Black Diamond Tour,” which takes experienced skiers and hones their skills for “Tres Hombres,” 45 acres of steep, north-facing, off-piste expert ski and snowboard terrain. This area is not groomed, giving it the thrill of backcountry with the safety of avalanche control.

Returning to Jasper on a regular basis? Their Mountain Club Programs allow skiers and snowboarders to build their skills over 5-10 weeks with cumulative instruction.

Three terrain parks offer jumps, boxes and rails for all abilities and new additions keep the spaces fresh.

Visit during Jasper in January’s 30th anniversary! Enjoy discounted lift tickets and lots of great activities including Avalanche Awareness Day, January 19, which features a snow bombing demo, the Marmot avalanche dog and information about mountain and snow safety.

To reach Marmot Basin from Lake Louise, drive 237 km/147 mi on Icefields Parkway along the Continental Divide. Visit 511.ca for road conditions. Book a daily shuttle with SunDog Tours that offers bus service to Jasper from Calgary, Banff, Lake Louise and Edmonton.

 

Tickets

A: $102 | Yth/Std/Sr: $82 | Jr: $36.50

Marmot Escape Card: Canadian residents receive 50% off regular day rates, all season with no blackouts. Further discounts and deals from Jasper hotels and activities.

 

 

 

Kananaskis Country

 

 

 

Try the beauty of the Canadian Rockies closer to Calgary.

 

5. NAKISKA SKI AREA

Photo courtesy of Nakiska

 

Features

  • Accessible Mountain
  • 735m/2,412ft vertical rise
  • 6 lifts, 64 runs

 

Nakiska, located 75 km east of Banff, was built to host the 1988 Calgary Olympic Alpine events. The Official Alpine Canada National Training Centre, Nakiska is open for skiers of all ages and abilities. With 1,021 acres of skiable terrain and impressive snowmaking capabilities that cover 75% of the mountain, Nakiska’s ski season lasts from December to March.

You’ll feel famous knowing that Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen Page and Tom Hardy learned to ski at Nakiska in preparation for ski scenes in Inception.

Test your skills on the terrain park, which is redesigned each season to provide exciting new experiences.

Try their tube park for family friendly thrills.

Nakiska also boasts an awesome Après Ski BBQ pit with outdoor seating designed to soak up every last ray of sunshine, key for short Alberta winter days.

 

Tickets

A: $89.95 | Sr: $71.95 | Yth: $67.95 | Ch: $33.95

 

 

Purcell Mountains

 

 

 

Enjoy the slopes just outside of the National Parks.

 

6. PANORAMA MOUNTAIN RESORT

Photo courtesy of Panorama Mountain Resort

 

Features

  • Third highest vertical in Canada
  • 1,300m/4,265ft vertical rise
  • 10 lifts, 129 runs

 

Panorama Mountain Resort, located 170 km west of Banff and 18 km west of Invermere, gives skiers and boarders access to 3000 acres of terrain including open fall-line, powder-filled tree skiing and steep bowl runs.

Try Taynton Bowl! 750 acres of pure black diamond skiing formerly exclusive to heli-skiers.

Warm up at the Springs Pools, Canada’s largest slope-side hot pools, including a large warm pool and two hot tubs.

Fuel up at the classic T-Bar and Grill or one of the Mountain Dining Huts on the slopes.

 

Tickets

A: $106 | Yth/Sr: $93 | Ch: $49

Panorama Express: $99 includes ticket. Thursdays from Banff. 1-877-565-9372.

 

 

7. KICKING HORSE RESORT

Photo by Nick Nault

 

Features

  • 5 Alpine Bowls
  • 1,315m/4,314 ft vertical rise
  • 5 lifts, 128 numbered runs

 

Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, located 145 km west of Banff via Hwy 1, is known as “Champagne Powder Capital of Canada.” Ski or ride on 2,825 acres of alpine ridges and bowls with deep natural snow.

Reach the summit with a single gondola ride for access to runs, sightseeing and the Eagle’s Eye Restaurant, the highest dining experience in Canada.

Explore the BIGGEST TERRAIN EXPANSION in Canada with new runs on terrain previously exclusive to heli-skiing. Available as conditions allow.

The Powder Express Shuttle runs daily from Banff: $100, lift pass included. 1-877-565-9372.

 

Tickets

A: $109.95 | Sr: $88.95 | Yth: $82.95 | Ch: $43.95

 

 

 

Cross-Country Skiing

Because life isn’t always downhill.

 

8. CANMORE NORDIC CENTRE

Photo courtesy of Canmore Nordic Centre

 

Features

  • More than 65 km/40 mi of groomed trails
  • 6.5 km/4 mi of illuminated trails for night skiing
  • All trails suitable for classic and skate-ski techniques

 

Originally built to host the 1988 Olympic Winter Games, the Canmore Nordic Centre is located just 5 minutes south of downtown Canmore. This world class facility is one of the few Olympic Nordic Skiing venues still operating.

The Visitors Centre offers training, rentals and a biathlon range.

Machine-made and natural snow combine to ensure trails are available for the whole season, from October to April.

The facility is accessible and includes snow ramps for sit skiers.

 

Daily trail use fees

A: $15 | Sr/Jr: $11.25 | Ch: $9 | Under 5 free.

 

 

For more trails throughout the Canadian Rockies, as well as places to rent skis, snowboards, snowshoes and more, Pick up a copy of WHERE Canadian Rockies!

Canadian Rockies Farm to Table

Surviving the Mountains on High-Quality, Locally-Grown Food

By Ken Wetherell

Illustrations by Lyuba Kirkova

You are strolling down scenic Banff Avenue; rugged, snow-capped mountain peaks ascend on all sides and you are taking your first breaths of fresh, crisp mountain air. You have arrived. But suddenly you are hungry — the fresh air of the Rockies has given you a voracious appetite for some locallly-grown food. Luckily, the prairies  of  Alberta, just east of the mountains, and the lush mountain valleys and river deltas of British Columbia are local farm havens. For example:

Beef and Pork
Benchmark Angus is a family-run ranch where premium, hormone-free Angus cattle graze the wide-open prairies.

Blue Ridge Farms produces grass-fed Angus beef, pasture raised poultry and purebred pastured pork.

At Broek Pork Acres, free-range Berkshire hogs, known for outstanding quality, texture and flavour, are raised on natural hay and grains without antibiotics, growth stimulants or animal by-products.

Redtail Farms is a third generation family farm that produces grass fed and finished beef, pastured pork, and natural honey. Their Scottish Luing cattle and Berkshire pigs are hormone- and antibiotic-free.

Bison
Carmen Creek raises bison that are free of additives, antibiotics, hormones and stimulants. The bison are raised on three local ranches.

Photo courtesy of Carmen Creek

Chicken, Turkey and Eggs
Mans Eggs produces organic and free-range eggs from small hen flocks on sixteen local farms.

Maple Hill Farms produces specialty chicken that is grain-fed (no animal by-products), antibiotic-free and humanely raised. They also produce free-range and certified organic eggs.

Ridge Valley Farm raises free-range chickens and turkeys in a humane environment using natural, locally-grown feed containing no artificial hormones or antibiotic growth promoters.

Stonepost Farms produces free-range eggs, chickens and turkeys, naturally grown produce, unpasteurized honey, and humanely raised grass-fed beef and pork.

Honey

Greidanus Honey Farms produces unprocessed honey, without blending or pasteurizing, collected from hives located in clover-rich fields.

Milk and Cheese

Fairwinds Farm produces organic milk, yogurt and cheese from goats that are fed an organic whole grain treat when they are being milked, and spend the rest of their summer days roaming the fields and eating fresh grass, which is converted to organic hay for their winter dining pleasure.

Sylvan Star Cheese produces lactose-free Gouda, Swiss and Edam cheeses from heat- treated milk containing no additives or antibiotics.

Vegetables

Broxburn Farm grows organic greenhouse peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers, as well as outdoor berries, vegetables and herbs.

Photo courtesy of Broxburn Farm

Mans Organics grows certified organic onions, shallots and garlic outdoors, and tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers in a half-acre greenhouse.

Photo Courtesy of Mans Organics

Poplar Bluff Organics grows speciality organic potatoes, beets, carrots and parsnips.

 

Now that you’ve got the low-down on locally farmed food, how can you sink your pearly whites into some of it? Here are some of the ways:

 

In Banff, The Bison Restaurant and Terrace’s menu features a map indicating where ingredients are regionally and provincially sourced. For example, you can enjoy a roasted Broxburn cauliflower salad with your Benchmark beef.

At the Rimrock Resort Hotel in Banff, you can reserve a table at Eden and enjoy fresh organic Alberta vegetables, caviar from Northern British Columbia and aged Gouda cheese from Sylvan Star. Or try the Maple Hill chicken from the Primrose Restaurant menu.

Todd Kunst, the owner of Canmore’s Sage Bistro, notes that he and his team “source quality ingredients from local purveyors and producers of fine foods to bring the best taste to your palate.” Vegetables from Broxburn Farms, Broek pork, Sylvan Star cheese and Fairwinds goat products are all on the menu.

The Fairmont Banff Springs hotel is unrivalled in its fine dining choices. Vegetables from Poplar Bluff or Mans Organics can be found in most of the hotel’s restaurants, along with Mans eggs and Greidanas honey. As well, you can find goat milk and goat cheese from Fairwinds Farms at the hotel’s 1888 Chophouse. Down the hill at the Waldhaus, enjoy cured sausages from Valbella or Ridge Valley chicken.

Photo courtesy of the Fairmont Banff Springs

At Olive Bistro in Jasper, chef and owner Darryl Huculak sources food locally because he wants his “restaurant to have a smaller ecological footprint, and because fresher food simply tastes better.” While much of his produce is from the Jasper Community Garden and his own small greenhouse, Darryl also sources poultry and pork from Blue Ridge Farms, and beef, eggs and produce from Stonepost Farms.

There is no shortage of farm-fresh foods to fuel your adventures in the Rockies. So eat well, burn o those delicious calories in one of the most popular mountain destinations in the world, and repeat.

The Rockies are Rough

YOUR SKIN DOESN’T HAVE TO BE

Words by Nicky Pacas

Photos by Rachel Boekel Photography

1

Being a ‘Mountain Man’ isn’t just about growing a beard; it’s about the skin, too. The Rocky Mountain Soap Company has made a collection of Men’s Stuff to help the roughest lumberjacks smooth things out after a day outdoors. Try the Soothing Face Cream, Energizing Face Scrub and Restorative Eye Cream to moisturize, exfoliate and prevent premature aging.

2

Do you have dry skin? Stop in at the Willow Stream Spa or the Spa at the Jasper Park Lodge and find relief using products by Kerstin Florian. The Rescue Cream was engineered specifically for Banff’s climate, the Neroli Water is perfect for use during or after air travel, and the Brightening Eye Cream instantly hydrates and smooths fine lines.

3

Stress stinks. Literally. But the ‘Tranquility’ line by [comfort zone] is a holistic relaxation treatment system with essential oils selected for their anti-stress properties. Try the Tranquility Body Lotion, Shower Gel/Cream, or Roll-on Fragrance for scents of sweet orange, Damascus, rose and cedar wood. Find [comfort zone] products at the Kananaskis Nordic Spa and at the Rimrock Resort Hotel Spa.

4

With a name like Achy Muscle Bath Bomb in a Bag by Simply Soak, need we say anything more? Find the powdery bath bomb at Project A in Canmore and bask in the anti-inflammatory properties of white willow bark and comfrey.

5

Break off a square from Field Kit Co.’s Travel Soap and clean up with scents like “The Lumberjack” (wood + smoke) or “The Explorer” (bergamot + ginger). If it’s your hair and skin that needs some extra love, add moisture with Dry Skin Facial Oil and Premium Hair Oil by Velvette Organics. All available at Project A.

Keep your skin feeling hydrated with essential oils from The Rocky Mountain Soap Co.’s Hydrating Outdoor Spray. Even though it’s not a bug spray, you can use it as a natural alternative to keep bugs at a distance.

6

Protect your peepers with a pair of Smith Sunglasses. Going out on the water? Opt for a pair of polarized glasses so that you can see through the glare. Available at The North Face, Helly Hansen and at Valhalla Pure Outfitters.

Find extra protection with a ball cap from The North Face, available in-store or at Wild Mountain and at Sports Experts.

Choose sunscreens made with zinc for protection and shea butter for moisture.

Try Éminence OrganicsTropical Vanilla Day Cream, an organic, natural, biodynamic and sustainable moisturizer with an SPF of 32, or the Sunscreen from the Rocky Mountain Soap Co., which uses a non-nano zinc oxide to provide broad-spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays. Find Éminence products at Mountain Wellness Day Spa and at Verde Day Spa.

The Breakout Buster from RMS can be used for bug bites and acne spots, but the moisturizing and soothing elements of this stick also work wonders on sunburnt lips.

 

Survival of the Fittest

Art by Colleen Campbell

Words by Nicky Pacas with help from Dieter Regett of Jasper Discovery Tours

Each year, after the harsh and inhospitable winter climate begins to soften into spring, the wildflowers (arguably the most resilient survivors of mountain weather) emerge alongside snowy and jagged trails, adding pops of colour to a grey landscape. As summer draws nearer, each major vegetative zone of the Canadian Rockies —Montane, Subalpine, and Alpine—plays host to a wide range of flora. In this issue, we’ve given you an illustrated guide to six varietals that bloom or change from the early spring until the end of September, each one playing an important role in its ecosystem.

Share your photos of these species in their natural habitat and use the hashtag #WhereRockiesWild for a chance to be featured in an upcoming issue.


CUTLEAF ANEMONE; PRAIRIE CROCUS

 

Pulsatilla patens

A harbinger of early spring, the Prairie Crocus often begins to emerge from the ground before the snow has melted.

Blooming Period: as early as March, but often seen from late-April through June

Location: Blooms in the Montane Zone; find the Prairie Crocus in the Saskatchewan River Crossing area, on the north shore of Johnson Lake, on the Bow Valley Parkway, and on the trails starting from 5th Bridge.


GLACIER LILY

Erythronium grandiflorium

Another harbinger of spring, the Glacier Lily grows at the edges of melting snow drifts.

Blooming Period: Late-April through June

Location: Find Glacier Lilies in the Alpine Zone at Bow Summit, Sunshine Meadows, and at Parker Ridge.


PAINTBRUSH

Castilleja species

The flowers on a Paintbrush can vary significantly in colour; from red to orange, light pink to white, even purple.

Blooming Period: April-September

Location: Blooms across all mountain zones. Find Paintbrushes on the Opal Hills Loop in Jasper (look for the trail kiosk in the upper parking lot at Maligne Lake), the Flower Loop/Overlander Trail, and at Sunshine Meadows.


TWINFLOWER

Linnaea borealis

A sweet-scented and trumpet-like flower.

Blooming Period: June and July

Location: Find Twinflowers in the Subalpine Zone locations of Stewart Canyon (follow the Lake Minnewanka shoreline to the Stewart Canyon trailhead kiosk), Bourgeau Lake Trail (approx. 13km west of the Mount Norquay interchange), the lower falls of Johnston Canyon, and many trails around Lake Louise.


WESTERN WOOD LILY

Lilium philadelphicum

Generally a solitary plant, the Western Wood Lily is a strikingly beautiful flower. Because of its beauty, it is often picked by admirers, resulting in its disappearance from some areas.

Blooming Period: June and July

Location: the Wood Lily blooms in the Montane Zone and is often found in grasslands and woodlands. Look for lilies on the north shore of Johnson Lake, on the Bow Valley Parkway, and on the Montane Traverse Trail.


LARCH TREE

Larix

Although Larches are conifers, they lose their needles in the fall. Before the needles fall, however, they turn from a bright green to a brilliant yellow, adding one last burst of colour to the landscape before winter’s arrival.

Notable Change: the needles often change colour in mid to late September

Location: Look for larches in the Subalpine Zones of Larch Valley, Chester Lake/Chester Creek, and Healy Pass (leave from Sunshine Village, behind the main gondola station)


For a list of tours and guides who can help you access some of the locations mentioned here (in addition to many others), see pages 73 and 144 of our online magazine.

National Indigenous Peoples Day 2018

It’s National Indigenous Peoples Day and the unique heritage and significant contributions of First Nations, Metis and Inuit Peoples are being celebrated throughout Canada!

 

Here are some ways you can join the celebrations in the Canadian Rockies

 

Canmore

Visit the Chiniki Cultural Centre and participate in the free events they are hosting. From 10 am-1 pm one of the Chiniki Elders will be dressed in full regalia and giving tours of the cultural exhibits and tipis. At 1 pm dancers and singers will be hosting a mini pow wow outside, performing traditional dances and answering questions. The Pow Wow will conclude with a special friendship dance. Throughout the day you can enjoy First Nations inspired cuisine from Stones Restaurant and they will be providing bite-sized bannock to visitors!

Photo by Bob Hawkesworth, courtesy of the Chiniki Cultural Centre

Head to the Canmore Market where Lifeways has been welcomed as a vendor. You can check out the work of local First Nations artists and say hi to some of the Nakoda artisans!

Photo courtesy of Lifeways

Hang out in Canmore for the day! Not only is there a lot of great stuff to check out at the market, there is a parade at 11 am and events at Centennial Park during the afternoon. You’ll have a chance to experience dancing, drumming, storytelling and Indigenous food. There will also be an artist market. After you’ve visited the park head to artsPlace and check out the Indigenous Art Exhibit.

 

Banff

Visit the Banff Centre where Brenda Holder will be leading two medicine walks at 5 and 7 pm. At 5:30 pm you can take a tour of the Walter Phillips Gallery followed by a tour of the library where there will be displays featuring indigenous artists contributions. After the tours attendees will be lead to the Max Bell Building for Film Screenings curated by Jade Nasogaluak Carpenter and at 7:30 pm Dale Mac will be performing a free concert!

Jasper

Head to the Jasper Information Centre Lawn. In Jasper,  National Indigenous Peoples Day is hosted by a different Nation each year. This year the Sunchild Cree First Nation will be hosting events including music starting at 11 am and a demonstration Pow Wow at 2 pm.

 

Kootenay Rockies

Stay at St. Eugene where they will be hosting a Pow Wow with the Ktunaxa Nation on June 24th. Resort staff will be wearing shirts that celebrate the resort’s Ktunaxa culture and ownership. Across from the resort the ʔaq̓am (St. Mary’s Indian Band) will be hosting celebrations from 1-7 pm with beading, hide tanning, drum making, traditional games and a BBQ.

 

Photo by Chris Istace, courtesy of St. Eugene

 

Celebrate in Fernie with outdoor storytelling with Ktunaxa legends and Metis stories. Make sure to bring an item for the potluck lunch.

 

Outside the Canadian Rockies

Visit Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump and learn about its vibrant and unique heritage at the award-winning interpretive centre.

Stay at the Stoney Nakoda Resort and you will have the perfect basecamp for experiencing all of the events taking place in Canmore and Banff.

Photo courtesy of the Stoney Nakoda Resort & Casino

Dine at the Grey Eagle Resort where Chief Chiniki is preparing some incredible meals.

 

We encourage everyone to participate in the celebrations today and we hope you will share your experiences with us  and let us know about any other events taking place today and throughout the year!

 

 

 

 

How to Survive a Vacation with Your Family

By: Nicky Pacas

If no one has a temper tantrum or slams a car door, did a family vacation even happen?

Photo Credit: Park Canada/Ryan Bray

We’ve all been there: excited for a family trip. The bags are packed, the hotel or campsite is booked, the car is gassed up — what could go wrong? It turns out, a lot! As much as we love our families, sometimes it seems impossible to survive a vacation with them. Luckily, we’ve compiled some tips and suggestions to help you maximize your trip and minimize your stress. Surviving a family vacation? Piece of cake.

1. Don’t Over-plan: Don’t plan on doing everything during your vacation; give yourself time to enjoy each activity and leave a little wiggle room in case you want to linger on a hike or on a canoe ride. Planning too many activities can make you feel frantic and leave you feeling like you might need a vacation after your vacation.

Using a tour company can alleviate the stress of dealing with details on your holiday. Because tour companies know the Canadian Rockies like no one else, you can trust that your adventures will be well-planned and organized. You might even be able to try something you wouldn’t have access to without a guide.

For early risers, book a Morning Wildlife Tour with Maligne Adventures in Jasper. Since most wildlife sightings occur early in the morning or later in the evening, depend on the expertise of the guides to get you to the right places to see mountain fauna (they have a 95% success rate) during a three-hour tour by vehicle.

Photo Credit: Ross Pugh, Maligne Adventures Wildlife Guide

For rock lovers, book an experience with Canmore Cave Tours and explore water-worn passageways and the beauty that hides beneath the mountainous landscape. A guide and the right equipment gives you access to the places that go unseen by most. Cave Tours typically have a minimum age requirement of 10 years old, but some educational offerings are accessible to all ages.

If you aren’t sure what hike best suits the abilities of your family members, get in touch with White Mountain Adventures for guidance on their hiking packages. Don’t see anything you like? Book a private or custom tour for an expertly arranged experience.

2.Know your Limits: if you have never climbed a mountain before, don’t plan on summiting the highest peak for your first activity. Start with reasonable activities that allow you to test your comfort level and skills before trying something bigger.

Whenever possible, pick an experience that offers variation so as to accommodate everyone’s abilities. Banff Trail Riders hosts two different (but equally fun) ways of getting to their Cowboy Cookout at 3 Mile Cabin: by wagon or by horseback. For family members aged 8 and older, the horseback ride is a guided tour along the base of Sulphur Mountain. For family members younger than 8, or for those who aren’t as keen to ride a horse, the wagon ride gets guests to the cookout after a scenic tour along the Bow River. No matter how you get there, you’ll all be eating together.

Not everyone can hike to great heights. For the best alternative to hiking, see our hot tip on gondolas and chairlifts.

Photo Credit: Banff Trail Riders

3. Pack your Snacks:  Don’t rely on eating a big breakfast or a big lunch to get you through your activities in the Rockies; nothing ruins a great day like being hangry. Packing small, easy-to-eat snacks can be a life-saver when you’re out on the trail and still far away from the parking lot. Visit the bulk section of the grocery store to stock up on nuts and dried fruit to put in your backpack. Energy bars, beef jerky and bananas also make good trailside treats. Remember to pack out your wrappers and peels so that you don’t leave attractants for the wildlife in the area.

For a family-friendly restaurant that is perfect for pre- and post-adventure fueling, visit Communitea in Canmore. With a friendly and healthy menu for kids (and a play area to keep them occupied), adults can indulge in a meal for themselves. Bonus: Communitea opens early (8am) and celebrates Friday with cupcakes!

Photo Credit: Orange Girl Photo

For other family-friendly eating options that can satisfy even the pickiest eaters, visit Craigs’ family restaurant in Canmore, Earls in Banff, or O’Shea’s Restaurant in Jasper.

If you’re looking for places to buy your snacks, find a list of grocery stores in our magazine on pages 92, 102 and 156.

4. Pack your Clothes: The weather in the Canadian Rockies is predictably unpredictable; it can be hot and sunny at the base of a mountain, but windy up top. Make sure that you bring layers so that you can plan for sudden changes in weather. Having extra clothes also makes it easy to move between activities without having to first stop at your hotel room or campsite.

For a list of shops that will outfit you for the mountain weather, see pages 91, 98, 104 and 156 of our magazine. Don’t forget your sunscreen! On page 26, see some of our favourite products to keep your skin protected from the elements.

Photo Credit: Jade Wetherell

5. Think about Interests: Do you love water activities? Do your kids love water activities? Sometimes the things we’re interested in doing are very different from the things the rest of the family enjoys. Make sure that you balance everyone’s interests, even if that means going to a museum for an afternoon instead of riding bikes. Chances are that you will be able to persuade your family members to do the things you enjoy if you show the same interest in their desires.

If you are up for adventure but the rest of your family wants to cool down in the water, why not make the best of both worlds and go whitewater rafting? Jasper’s Whitewater Rafting takes clients (kids must be at least 6 years old) through exciting rapids for speedy adventure. Jasper Raft Tours offers a gentler alternative to whitewater rafting through their tours designed for the entire family. With local guides who have grown up in Jasper or lived in the town for a long time, visitors are led on a sightseeing adventure down the Athabasca River.

Photo Credit: Jasper Raft Tours

6. Have a Plan B: In Lynda Pianosi’s book, Take a Hike with Your Children, all of the hikes that Pianosi recommends have a “Plan B”—each hike is close to a playground or interpretive centre so that if your kids won’t budge beyond the trailhead, you can still make the most of your location.

Pick up a copy of Lynda’s book at Café Books in Canmore. Some of our favourite hikes include the Fenland Trail in Banff, Cougar Creek in Canmore, and Morraine Lake Shoreline in Lake Louise. The Red Squirrel Trail in Jasper is close to the townsite and accessible for all walking abilities.

Try turning your adventures into a treasure hunt by finding as many of Parks Canada’s Red Chairs as you can. The Red Chairs have been placed in special locations around Banff and Jasper National Parks, and are meant to encourage people to connect with each other and with nature. Some are easy to find, others require a little more effort, but all of them are worth the views they provide. There are 13 Red Chairs locations in Banff National Park, and 7 locations in Jasper National Park. Visit the Parks Canada website for the exact Red Chair locations.

Bonus: youth (17 and under) receive free admission to Parks Canada places this year. That means free admission to all national parks, national historic sites, and national marine conservation areas operated by Parks Canada!

7. Find Time for Yourself: this is your vacation, too! Make sure that you set some time aside so that you can get some exercise, some alone time, or maybe even a meal at a restaurant that you’ve been eyeing. Take advantage of locations that have childminding or hotels that offer babysitting services.

If you need to take a little time for yourself but you aren’t travelling with a babysitter (let’s be honest, most of us don’t), there are still ways to keep your kid(s) occupied while you try some exploring or activities of your own.

Take advantage of the child daycare services at Lake Louise while you enjoy the Lake Louise Summer Gondola or an open chairlift. The daycare is fully licensed and will take kids as young as 18 days! Full day and half-day rates are available.

At Elevation Place in Canmore, get a workout in at the pool, in the gym or at the climbing wall while your little one enjoys the “Lil’ Bears Den” childminding services. A maximum stay is two hours and children must be between 6 months and 7 years old. If your workout lasts under two hours, take advantage of the Good Earth Coffeehouse on site and relax for a while—you’ve earned it.

In the Canadian Rockies, survival isn’t about being the fittest; survival (especially on a holiday with your family) is all about planning. But once you’ve made the plans, don’t forget to relax and enjoy yourself!

Keep reading through the magazine for hot tips on sightseeing, entertainment, food and more.

Photo Credit: Ross Pugh, Maligne Adventures Wildlife Guide

Surviving the Sights

By Calli Naish

One glimpse of a turquoise-blue glacial lake peeking out from between the peaks is enough to remind you that the Rocky Mountains offer more wonder than one could ever hope to uncover in a lifetime. For over one hundred years, visitors from across the globe have come to discover the secrets that linger atop the summits and within the valleys.

Fishing near Banff, Byron Harmon/photographer, Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, Byron Harmon fond (V263/na-448)

Mountain Rivers

Known as the “greatest land geographer that ever lived,” David Thompson mapped 3.9 million square km of North America and went blind in one eye from constantly staring at the sun and the stars while navigating. He travelled from the Bow River Foothills to British Columbia by way of the mountain river systems to extend the fur trade routes to the Pacific. Accompanied by his wife and three young children (see our magazine for tips on surviving your own family road trip) he navigated the Columbia River and established Kootenae House outside of Kootenay National Park.

The many rivers, lakes and streams surrounding the Columbia River are known for having an abundance of trout, and the East Kootenays have become world renowned for fly fishing. Kootenay Troutfitters and Kimberley Fly Fishing offer tours for beginner and experienced anglers. If you won’t be travelling as far west as Thompson did, you can fish the Rockies on your own, or with Banff Fishing Unlimited. No matter where you cast your line, you’re guaranteed to be surrounded by the timeless beauty of the mountains.

Mountain Guides

As tales of the early Rocky Mountain explorers and surveyors made their way east, the Canadian Pacific Railway moved west across the Great Divide into British Columbia, bringing curious travellers with it. Seizing entrepreneurial opportunity, Tom Wilson (known for his rediscovery of Lake Louise and Emerald Lake) started a guiding and packing outfit in Banff, providing guides to accompany surveyors, mountaineers and climbers on their expeditions. Two of his most notable guides were Bill Peyto and Jimmy Simpson.


The town of Field, BC, was first established in 1880 and it quickly attracted visitors who wanted to explore the natural wonders of the area now known as Yoho National Park. Experience the allure for yourself by hiking around Emerald Lake  or by renting a canoe from Emerald Sports to paddle on the emerald-coloured water.



Bill Peyto was one of the foremost guides of the early days of tourism in the Rockies. He wore two pairs of pants, slept with a pistol under his pillow, and is rumoured to have once brought a wild lynx into a bar. He crossed Bow Summit to find an oddly shaped lake that would later become his namesake, and he was one of the first Park Wardens in Banff. He also guided the early climbers who dreamed of completing first ascents of Rocky Mountain peaks. In 1901 he guided one such climber, James Outram, to Mount Assiniboine where Outram became the first climber to summit the “Matterhorn of the Rockies.”

Bill Peyto bringing live lynx to zoo [Banff], ca. 1915, Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, Don Harmon fond (V265/123/na66-467)

If you’ve come to the Rockies for the heights that Outram sought, head to Kicking Horse Mountain Resort or Mount Norquay for a guided via Ferrata climb. At Kicking Horse, experienced climbers can tackle “465 m of pure bliss,” and newcomers can try a more progressive route. If you find the climbing daunting, opt for a walk across the suspension bridge instead. The via Ferrata routes at Norquay range from beginner to advanced, accommodating all types of adventurers.


If you’d rather sightsee than climb, take the short hike to the Peyto Lake Lookout, north of Lake Lousie on the west side of the Icefields Parkway, and see the same sights that Bill Peyto witnessed over a century ago. Adept hikers can explore the surrounding trails or scramble up higher for an even better view of the famous wolf-shaped lake. 


After covering most of Canada and the western United States as a railcar stowaway, Jimmy Simpson eventually settled in the Rockies. He had been inspired by a brief encounter with Bill Peyto and was “determined to emulate [him] or die trying.” Originally hired for his cooking skills, Simpson joined Tom Wilson’s guiding outfit and soon learned how to expertly ride and pack cayuses (mountain ponies). He became a revered packer and guide, leading scientists and big game hunters, as well as famous climbers and mountaineers. Simpson traversed so much of the Rockies that Mary Shäffer wrote of him, “Jim’s axe in this country has done more to make the old trails passable for future comers than any other…”

Jimmy Simpson, ca. 1908, Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, Jim Simpson family fond (V577/5/pg63/na66-265)


Stretching between Banff and Jasper National Parks, and crossing the Continental Divide, the Columbia Icefield  has been fascinating visitors for centuries. You can experience the marvel for yourself by booking an icefield tour or by walking the Glacier Skywalk, which overlooks part of the largest field of ice in the Rocky Mountains.


Simpson’s mountain exploits would not have been possible without his pack horses, and although there are now many ways to explore the Rockies, doing so by horseback still offers an experience unlike any other. Tour the Bow Valley with Banff Trail Riders and you can catch a glimpse of the Cave and Basin while you ride along the Bow River. In Lake Louise you can head out with Brewster Adventures and ride to the Lake Agnes Teahouse, or to the Plain of the Six Glaciers. And if you are in Jasper you can ride along the Athabasca River with Jasper Park Stables.


When Jimmy Simpson first saw Bow Lake in 1898, he regarded it as the most beautiful place he had seen in Canada and vowed that he’d “build a shack” there someday. Visit Num-Ti-Jah Lodge, his “shack” on Bow Lake, and appreciate the same beauty he was inspired by over a century ago.


Mountain Secrets

Mary Schäffer studied flower painting and began her Rocky Mountain adventures around Banff, Laggan (now Lake Louise) and Field, examining the flora of the mountains with her husband, who studied botany. Although her early travels did not take her far from the railway tracks, she ventured further into the wilderness with each return trip, ultimately setting her sights on finding an elusive lake. In July of 1908, after two summers of exploration, her party finally found itself on the shores of Chaba Imne, the fabled lake that had previously been known only to the Cree and Stoney People. And on a shaky, hand-crafted raft that they called the “HMS Chaba,” they sailed out on Chaba Imne, or as it is now known, Maligne Lake.


Though most people now come to Jasper by car, you can still explore the area in the same way the first tourists did: by train. Sundog Tours offers rail tours along the Fraser River with views of Rearguard Falls, Mount Robson (the highest peak in the Rockies), and the Cariboo Mountains.


While, the HMS Chaba had to be abandoned on the shores of the lake, there are thankfully a number of different (and more reliable) ways to discover Maligne Lake. You can rent a canoe from the Maligne Lake Boathouse or book a cruise and tour down the lake to Spirit Island, one of the most iconic locations in Jasper National Park. If you’d rather explore from the shore, visit the Maligne Lake Chalet or hike the Mary Shäffer Loop. By boat or by boot, be sure you keep your eyes peeled for the wildflowers that brought Mary Shäffer to the Rockies.

Travel has come a long way from canoes and pack trains, but the mountains still offer the same mysterious wilderness that drew the earliest visitors to the Canadian Rockies at a time when travelling the mountains was as much about survival as it was about exploration.

 

The historical photos in this story have been generously provided by the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies.
The Whyte Museum is celebrating 50 years of sharing the history and culture of the Rocky Mountains.